The politically dominant Kapus in Andhra Pradesh have been included in the other backward classes (OBC) category, with a 5% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs. Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed a resolution piloted by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday, fulfilling the 25-year-long demand by the community.
Now Kapus are categorised as BC-F, a new group in the list of 102 OBC castes. The quota for Kapus is applicable only to educational seats and job, but they cannot contest seats reserved for OBCs in the local bodies. Existing OBCs have opposed the entry of Kapus into the OBC list on the ground that the powerful community would corner all others in the reserved seats in the local bodies.
However, the implementation of the quota rests with the Centre as the Act has to be included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution in view of the total reservations in Andhra Pradesh that now touches 55%, exceeding the 50% ceiling stipulated by the Supreme Court. The bill will first go to the Governor for his assent and then to the Centre, requiring a Constitutional amendment.
Reservations for the Kapus had become a major political issue in AP as their community leader and former minister Mudragada Padmanabham held a series of indefinite hunger strikes in the past two years. Last year hundreds of Kapus activists were arrested after they set on fire the Ratnachal Express train at Tuni in East Godavari district on 31 January.
Padmanabham and his followers were arrested several times since 2016 as they tried to march towards Amaravati to hold a mass rally. They had issued a fresh ultimatum to the government to announce the Kapus quota by 6 December, failing which they would begin a statewide stir. CM Naidu took up this issue on a priority basis as he convened his Cabinet meeting twice on Friday evening to accept the recommendations of three out of four members of AP BC Commission. Commission chairman Justice K.L. Manjunatha preferred not to make any recommendation on the issue, while others like M. Purnachander Rao, S. Satyanarayana and V. Subramanyam approved the OBC status to Kapus.
BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh are tight lipped over the stand of the Centre on including the Kapus reservation in the 9th Schedule. “We need to see how the Centre will react to this bill,” said BJP MLA Vishnu Raju.